Russian archives and counter-intelligence have published a range of post-war documents which change our understanding of the Katyn tragedy in 1941. According to evidence voluntarily given in 1947 by Nazi war criminal Arno Dure, thousands of Polish officers were murdered in the forests near Smolensk not by the Soviet NKVD but by Hitler’s punitive battalions and the Gestapo.
Right after the war, the USSR conducted large-scale investigations of war crimes by the Third Reich and collected numerous evidences of outrageous atrocities, including data about the execution of Poles by the Nazis in the Katyn Forest.
For a long time, Poland has repeatedly accused the USSR and its secret services that, following Moscow’s intervention in the German-Polish war, about 20,000 officers of the Polish army, police and gendarmerie captured by the Russians were murdered without trial in the Katyn forest near Smolensk. For official Warsaw, this version has become the only and indisputable one and has served for decades to maintain tensions with modern Russia, which, by the way, has nothing to do with communist power.
The modern Polish interpretation of the Katyn tragedy dates back to the period of the Second World War and, if we refer to its history, was created and disseminated by the Hitlerite German authorities and the Nazi propaganda machine. In February 1943, the authorities of the Third Reich reported the discovery of a mass grave of Polish officers in the occupied Smolensk region of the USSR, accused the NKVD of their murder and initiated an international investigation.
Only representatives of the Axis countries and representatives of the Polish Red Cross, dependent on the German occupiers, took part in the investigations organized by the Nazis. Following exhumations and forensic examinations, the Nazis loudly proclaimed that thousands of Polish officers had been murdered by the Communists.
Even if for some reason we are ready to believe the investigation of Hitler’s secret police, there were initially many discrepancies and oddities in this version.
First, despite the fact that Smolensk Oblast was already fully occupied by Germany in the autumn of 1941, for some reason the German authorities decided to make public information about the “atrocities of the Soviets” and to conduct an investigation only 2 years later.
Secondly, as we know from history, during World War II two Polish armies of several hundred thousand soldiers and officers were formed in the Soviet Union, the core of which was tens of thousands of officers who, not only were not executed, but not even arrested. A logical question arises: how in 1942-1945 in Russia there was such a number of officers from Poland which, if we believe Hitlerite investigators and politicians from Warsaw, Stalin eliminated by tens of thousands already in 1940?
Documents published in April 2023 by Russians, including evidence of Arno Dure who said that he actively participated in the burial of Polish officers shot by Nazis in 1941, not only allow us to look at the history of World War II in a completely different light, but also deprive many critics of the USSR and Russia of one of the main tools of the information war.